Fire chief, policy and technology advisor
Chief Kim Zagaris is the Wildfire Policy and Technology Advisor for the Western Fire Chiefs Association - a position created in response to the destructive wildfires that have unfolded across the Western US.
Chief Zagaris retired as State Fire and Rescue Chief for the State of California, Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) - a position he held for 17 years. Prior to his appointment, he was the Assistant Fire Chief for Cal OES with assignments in Region I, II, III, IV and V since 1987. He started his career as a Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) seasonal firefighter in 1977 and promoted through the ranks of the local, state and federal fire agencies to the State Fire and Rescue Chief.
With 42 years' experience, Chief Zagaris has extensive background in fire service, emergency management, and homeland security which includes working with local, state, federal and international agencies. During his time, he has served under six Governors and has been actively involved in major and catastrophic emergencies across the US.
During his time with Cal OES, Chief Zagaris was responsible for several major program elements including the day-to-day management of the California Fire and Rescue Mutual Aid System, which includes over 1,100 fire agencies, and some 55,000 professional and volunteer firefighters operating approximately 6,000 fire engines statewide. He has also been involved in emergency assignments including the 2000 Rocky Mountains and Great Basin Fires, the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks, the 2002 Arizona Fires, the 2005 Hurricane Katrina and the 2017 Hurricanes Harvey & Irma.